“Droughts, climate change and deforestation are putting forests at risk worldwide, so studying these ecosystems closely is more important than ever — but it’s a hell of a lot of work to climb every tree in the Sierra Nevada. Drones and advanced imaging, however, present an increasingly practical alternative to that, as this UC Berkeley project shows.
Todd Dawson, an ecologist at the university, spends a lot of time up in trees, measuring limbs, checking growth and so on. As you can imagine, it’s slow, dangerous and demanding work — which is why a collaboration with drone maker Parrot and imaging tech company Pix4D was appealing.
“Before, a team of five to seven people would climb and spend a week or more in one tree mapping it all around. With a drone, we could do that with a two-minute flight. We can map the leaf area by circling the tree, then do some camera work inside the canopy, and we have the whole tree in a day,” Dawson said in a Berkeley news release.”